Silhouettes are a fun thing to practice in photography. I have to admit I don’t usually photograph silhouettes when photographing dogs. So my examples this week are non doggie related.
In a previous blog “Catchlights” I mentioned that we as photographers are always chasing the light. If we are natural light photographers this involves being aware of where the sun is in relation to your subject or by using flashes or strobes to create our own light when natural light won’t do. Let's face it, we cannot move the sun, which is the most common outdoor source of light there is.
Ideally you would shoot a silhouette either early in the morning at sunrise or at the end of the day during sunset because contrast is key to creating a beautiful silhouette image. That is not to say that you cannot shoot a silhouette in the middle of a bright sunny day, you can. You can even shoot a silhouette indoors.
So, the trick to making a silhouette image is to do exactly the opposite of what we would normally do and that is, we're going to place our subject in front of the source of light so that they are back lit. Let’s take a look.
This first example is a sunset photographed in Sarasota, Florida. In another life, I used to travel for work a great deal. On one of those assignments, I was in Sarasota Florida. This was the view from my hotel. So every afternoon after work, I would rush to the beach to catch the sunset. The problem was that everybody had the same idea. A highway ran parallel to the beach and you guessed it, the entire shoreline was lined up with cars. I could have gone to the beach and photographed my sunset, but then I would have missed on the silhouette of the tall grasses and the people. So I exposed for the sunset and the foreground was darkened as a result. The contrast between the sky and the tall grasses create this silhouette. Remember all those cars that I mentioned were parked along the beach? The roof of the cars are at the bottom of the picture. I cropped the road and most of the cars, but if I had cropped the roofs, I would have lost most of the bottom of the picture. You cannot see the roofs of the cars because they're completely black. Silhouettes are great for hiding unwanted elements in a photograph.
Here is another example of a silhouette. This one was taken at the end of a celebration honoring the Ashland Harbor Breakwater Lighthouse centennial located on the South shore of Lake Superior in Ashland, Wisconsin. It was the end of the day and we were wrapping up the festivities, when I turned around and saw this sailboat. The color of the sky and the water have been enhanced in Lightroom. The same treatment that was applied to the sky and the water even though the effect appears more intense in the water. If you have ever seen reflections you will notice that reflections are always darker than the original object.
These next images were photographed indoors. I have a little figurine of the Kokopelli, a trickster god who also represents the spirit of music. Kokopelli is venerated by some Native American cultures in the Southwestern US.
The first image shows the original figurine. The figure to the right is the silhouette.
To create this image, I placed my soft-box at minimum power behind the figurine. The first image is the original figurine. The settings were adjusted until I obtained a perfectly black silhouette.
The next two images are playful variations of the first silhouette.
To make it more colorful, I brought the image into Photoshop and used the magic brush to remove the white background from the original silhouette. Then I created a new layer and filled it with color and applied the gradient tool. The last picture follows the same process, except that this time, instead of deleting the white background, I used the magic brush to eliminate the black silhouette of the figurine. Thus when the color is applied in another layer the transparent figurine now lets the color show through to reveal a colorful Kokopelli with a white background. If you want to find out more about this intriguing little character, you can read all about it here.
This is another silhouette done indoors. This is a figurine of a wolf. This time, I covered the soft box with a blue tissue paper to obtain this colored background.
In case you're wondering why so many indoor silhouettes, we had a huge snow storm earlier this week that dumped over 18" of snow and there's another one on the way. So I am hibernating right now. Silhouettes can be as simple as the picture of this wolf figurine or more complex and interesting when you have a beautiful background like the one below. Thank you for stopping by.
This blog was created as part of a weekly challenge. Each subject encompassing a new focus or photographic technique.
Stop by to visit us next week.
To see more examples of this week's theme, please visit:
Linda with VPShoots Photography in Tampa, FL
"On a morning from a Bogart movie, In a country where they turn back time; You go strolling through the crowd like..." Oh, wait, my bad. It's the year of the Dog, not the Year of the Cat! Welcome to this week's theme.
If you've ever been to a Chinese restaurant, you probably have noticed the place mats with the Chinese Zodiac signs. I always make it a point to read it and see what my future holds. I've always believed I was born in the year of the snake, and I loved it. Snakes are a symbol of Wisdom after all. Lo and behold, as I was doing research for this blog, I dug a little deeper into the whole Chinese Zodiac turns out that I would only be a Snake if I had been born after February 20. As it turns out, I was born in the year of the Dragon, but enough about me.
In honor of the Year of the Dog, I had planned to photograph my buddy Silas. The background I was planning to use is a beautiful Chinese scroll I received as a wedding gift, more than 20 years ago. The scroll was brought back from China by the Best Man at our wedding, Gavin, who lived there for a year. So it seemed befitting that I use it as a backdrop to my gorgeous sweet pal, Silas.
However, Silas had other plans. His agent told him he should no longer work for treats and he absolutely refused to cooperate choosing instead to lie down and give me the "innocent" look. So while this blog is supposed to be about the Year of the Dog, fortunately for me, I do have a cat who will do just about anything for food, so she sneaked into this blog. This one is short and sweet, and not much info on the Year of the Dog, but if you work your way down to the bottom you'll see some cute puppies that are available right now. You'll also get to see who the next blogger is and how they have tackled this subject.
Silas giving me the, "I don't know what you want from me, but can I still get that treat?" look.
This is Luna, my three legged wonder cat. We found her at 10 weeks old as a feral kitten who had been hit by a car. We couldn't save her leg, but we did manage to save her life. She is now 10 years old. She has used up three of her 9 lives, but she sure is fearless and the best "guard dog" I've ever had. As I type this she's giving me the evil eye asking me to get off the computer and feed her!
Luna is fearless. Anytime she sees somebody outside she growls and gets ready for battle. My dogs would have welcome the intruders and even showed them in saying, "This way, this is where they keep the valuables." Not Luna. There was once a bear that was getting too close to the house. Luna alerted me. Jumped off the counter, ran to the sliding door, got on her two hind legs, got all fluffed up to 3 times her size, began swaying back and reminiscing of Bruce Lee and got ready to show them a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon move or two. I actually had to remove her from the sliding door so she wouldn't actually call the attention of the bear.
So, really not much in terms of the Year of the dog, but hopefully the next photos will make you forget all about it ;-). Next we have the cutest bunch of Pittie puppies available a CHA, sorry, couldn't help to make a plug for these beauties. Happy Year of the Dog to all you dogs out there. Don't forget that after the last photo is the link to the next photographer in the circle. Check them out to see some great photos. Keep on clicking until you get back here again, then you'll know you've completed the circle.
Welcome to week 6 of the "52 Week Project". This week's theme is Fantasy, which is defined as, "the faculty or activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable." In photography, this correlates to the limit of what can be achieved as determined by your creativity, imagination and your technical abilities (both behind the camera and/or on the computer).
I have to admit, that when it comes to photography, "Fantasy" is not my forte. Therefore, this should prove to be a very brief blog entry. I hope you enjoy my limited repertoire of Fantasy photos.
The first two photos were created using the same "3D Pop-up" effect. This is a relatively simple and fun effect to achieve. It consists of duplicating the original image, masking the area you want to "pop" up in one of the images. Creating a mask, using perspective warping, creating a gradient fill layer (for the shadows of the paper), and voila - you have a 3D effect. I've only attempted this twice, and have shared both results below. If you're interested in trying this, you can follow this link to create your very own 3D Pop up effect .
This is Maggie. She's a beautiful dog and a sweetheart. Her favorite activities are going for long walks and hearding her buddy Rhodes.
These two beautiful sweet dogs, were photographed at the Apostle Island Sled Dog Races a couple of years ago. The black one reminds me of a wolf. The same technique was followed, but in this one, I added a bit of snow out of the frame.
Last but not least is Titus. A sweet active pup who loves to fly (with or without his cape.) This is a composite image made up of 4 photos, the moon, the cape, the bone, and Titus. The picture below is the original picture of Titus. He has since been adopted.
This blog was created as part of a weekly project and a blog circle. Every week,
we tackle a new subject or photographic technique. Thank you for stopping by.
To see more examples of this week's theme, please visit: Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography, fetching family portraits in Coppell, Texas and surrounding cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
What is Depth of Field (DoF)?
Simply explained, if such a thing is possible, DoF is an area (field) of sharpness (focus) that exists in front and behind the subject you’re trying to photograph. More precisely, it is the nearest point in front of your subject and the furthest point behind your subject that are in focus. This field, is very exact, and is very measurable. I should also mention that this field is perfectly perpendicular to your lens. So that if you tilt your lens, the focal plane shifts with your lens - hence the term "tilt-shift" but that's a theme for another blog.
Circle of Confusion
When you play with DoF you will come across what is known as the "Circle of Confusion" this is an area that will appear to be in focus even though it is slightly out of focus. What happens is that our eyes cannot tell the difference.
Don’t worry, I won’t get into the math of DoF. Fortunately for us, some awesome math geeks, have come out with great DoF Calculators so we don’t have to spend all our time doing math instead of making photographs. However, if you are part photographer and part math-geek, I will have a link at the bottom where you can learn everything you wanted to learn and more about lens optics and all the math that goes into photography. You'd be surprised how much math and science actually goes into photography.
DoF is a by-product of aperture, it is also affected by other factors such as,
Why does DoF occur?
Why it occurs is a function of lens optics, Gauss' Lens construction, physics and many other principles that are beyond the scope of this blog. Check this cool DoF applet that will let you play with the factors and see exactly what happens and why.
For the purpose of this blog, what's important for us to know is that DoF occurs and we can manipulate it by changing one or more of the conditions listed above to achieve different results. Let’s take a look.
All these images were shot on a full frame camera from the same distance - roughly 2 ft. with an 85 mm prime lens. This distance was definitely pushing the limits of the minimum focal distance of this lens. I purposely shot with a prime lens so we wouldn't have to deal with compression from a telephoto. The only thing that has changed is the lens aperture and the shutter speed which was adjusted in order to get the proper exposure.
If you want to calculate the DoF yourself, you can use this calculator from DoF Masters. Here's the link DoF Masters Calculator
There will be times when you want to use a shallow DoF to isolate your subject and guide the viewer's eye to where you want them to focus. A shallow DoF is especially useful when you're trying to eliminate clutter, busyness or anything that distracts from your subject. Since our eyes naturally gravitate towards things that are in focus, you need to give your viewer's eye a place to stop. You must be careful not to use too shallow a depth of field or you may get too much of a blurry subject. When everything is out of focus, our eyes wander, searching for a place to rest - that place is anything that is in focus.
The opposite is true, there will be times where a wider DoF is called for. For example when you're shooting a landscape or when you need some context in your picture.
In the photograph below, I have certainly isolated my subject, but I am so close to the subject that some of the subject is blurry. If you look at the calculator next to the example, my depth of field at 2 feet is .01 feet. That means that the area of focus in front of and behind my subject is 1/8" deep (which includes my subject). Well, 1/8" is not very deep. No wonder there is a very small area of my photo that is in focus.
On the second image, shot at F16, the DoFis much wider - more of the picture appears to be identifiable. We can see some rocks, buildings, the lake. By changing your DoF, you can control exactly where you want your audience to look.
Now let's see a few examples. Each photograph has been shot at different depths of fields. You can see thee different levels of blurriness in each picture. You can click on each photo to make them larger.
While my use of a shallow DoF is more utilitarian when I'm photographing shelter animals, I usually have to hide all sorts of distractions. it doesn't always have to be done for this purpose. Shallow DoF is also an artistic choice and a creative way to pop your subject out of the photograph for greater impact. What DoF to use is up to the creativity of each photographer. Do you have preferred DoF? I usually adapt my DoF to the circumstances.
This blog was created as part of a weekly challenge. Each subject encompassing a new focus or photographic technique. Stop by to visit us next week.
To see more examples of this week's theme, please visit: Ashley Siemon Photography, Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California.